The Neu class has arrived.
It’s Year Two of the Mike Neu era in Muncie, Indiana. Year One was disappointing, though not all that shocking. Pete Lembo didn’t leave the cupboard bare when he left Ball State in 2015, but none of the pieces seemed to match. Neu assembled those pieces as best he could, and the end result was a 4-8 (1-7) effort in 2016.
It didn’t feel that bad, though did it? Certainly there’s talent at Ball State. Couple that with the drop off we can surely expect at Western Michigan, and a couple solid Cardinal recruiting classes means Ball State could be a player in the MAC West for years to come. This class definitely is a step in the right direction.
Listen, this is the Mid-American Conference. When it comes to recruiting, keep your expectations realistic. I mean that strictly as it applies to the ranking, though. The MAC isn’t going to produce a top 10 class. That doesn’t mean that Ball State isn’t improving their program, and moving in the right direction. In fact, it’s been a banner year in Delaware County so far.
First things first. Remember Tyler Vander Waal, the quarterback from Sacramento who was headed to Ball State? You can forget him, he decommitted and going to Wyoming. Tight end Peyton Hendershot flipped as well. He’s taking his talents to Bloomington, Indiana and joining the Hoosiers.
Now the good news. Neu’s list numbers 29, and it’s a pretty impressive haul for the second year of his regime. Last season Ball State inked 22 and had the MAC’s fourth best class, 111th nationally according to 247Sports. This year Neu took a significant step in the right direction. Ball State’s class ranks 2nd, 83rd in America. Here are your future Cardinals:
- Khalil Newton (3-star ATH, 6’2”, 175 lbs, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA))
- Curtis Blackwell (3-star OT, 6’5”, 306 lbs, Norwell (Ossian, IN))
- Justin Gibbs (3-star WR, 6’2”, 200 lbs, Grovetown (Grovetown, GA))
- Jimmy Daw (3-star RB, 6’3”, 195 lbs, Medina (Medina, OH))
- Caleb Huntley (3-star RB, 6’0”, 210 lbs, Locust Grove (Locust Grove, GA))
- Justin Hall (3-star ATH, 5’10”, 170 lbs, Alexander (Douglasville, GA))
- Shahid Reece (3-star OLB, 6’0”, 220 lbs, Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, LA))
- Brock Burns (3-star S, 6’3”, 176 lbs, Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, IN))
- Verenzo Holmes (3-star CB, 6’0”, 175 lbs, Aquinas (Augusta, GA))
- Dorion Pollard (2-star OLB, 6’0”, 215 lbs, Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, IL))
- Demetrius Murray (2-star CB, 6’2”, 175 lbs Grayson (Loganville, GA))
- Myles Hannah (2-star CB, 5’11”, 172 lbs, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA)
- Christian Albright (2-star SDE, 6’2” 225 lbs, North Cobb (Kennesaw, GA)
- Brett Anderson (2-star CB, 5’11”, 175 lbs, Grand Blanc Community (Grand Blanc, MI)
- Zach Haynes (2-star SDE, 6’3”, 225 lbs, South Warren (Bowling Green, KY))
- Erick Eldridge (2-star OT, 6’5”, 294 lbs, Southfield (Southfield, MI)
- Jake Mckenzie (2-star OT, 6’4”, 259 lbs, Heritage Christian (South Holland, IL)
- Ethan Merriweather (2-star WR, 6’0”, 168 lbs Carmel (Carmel, IN)
- Bryce Cosby (2-star CB, 5’11”, 170 lbs, Dupont Manual (Louisville, KY))
- Malcolm Lee (2-star S, 6’2”, 180 lbs, Baker (Mobile, AL))
- Markice Hurt Jr. (2-star RB, 5’9”, 183 lbs, Michigan City (Michigan City, IN))
- Antonio Phillips (2-star S, 6’0”, 170 lbs, Kirkwood (Saint Louis, MO))
- Poni Tu’uta (2-star DT, 6’4”, 290 lbs, John Curtis (New Orleans, LA))
- David Rueth (OLB, 6’1”, 205 lbs, Archbishop Alter (Dayton, OH))
- Michael Robinson (OLB 6’1”, 205 lbs, Allatoona (Acworth, GA))
- Kevin Dominque (3-star ATH, 6’1”, 200 lbs, Plaquemine (Plaquemine, GA))
- Hassan Littles (2-star WR, 5’10”, 175 lbs, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA))
- Jordan Williams (3-star DE, 6’4”, 235 lbs, Centennial (Champaign, IL)
- Nathan Snyder (P, 6’4”, 220 lbs, Marysville (Marysville, OH)
Neu nets 11 3-star recruits up from eight last year. In the opinion of 247Sports, this class is more accomplished at the top than 2016’s. Ball State may have grabbed it’s next great wide receiver in Khalil Newton. His tape is worth your time. Courtesy of hudl:
Your other takeaway needs to be the number of names from the Peach State. It’s more than a third of the class. Hey, don’t get me wrong. That’s not a bad thing. So far, Neu is proving himself to be an above average recruiter. That said, making some progress in Indiana will go a long way towards the Cardinals again becoming competitive in the MAC.
Cardinals’ offensive coordinator Joey Lynch did get a gem in Curtis Blackwell. Ball State was one of five MAC schools to make an offer offensive lineman. 247Sports rates him as the number 13 OL in the state of Indiana. He’s a big boy, as you can see in this highlight. Keep in mind, this is from his junior year.
So it’s so far, so good in Muncie. Everyone outside of Kalamazoo is glad that P.J. Fleck rowed the boat to Minnesota. Things are going to be wide open in the MAC West for awhile, bet on that. It may not feel like it, but Neu’s first season at Ball State was better than Lembo’s last. If he is able to get close to the success that Lembo reached at his peak in Muncie, Cardinal football fans have a lot to look forward to for the next few seasons.